While You Were Out: Jan. 15, 2020

A down-and-back sort of day for yours truly…here are some headlines to consider while I work my way back north.

The U.S. Senate formally opened the impeachment trial of President Trump today, as senators accepted the promise to deliver “impartial justice” and installed Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. as the presiding officer.

The Trump administration violated the law in withholding security assistance aid to Ukraine, a nonpartisan federal watchdog agency (the Government Accountability Office) said, weighing in on a decision by the president that is at the heart of the impeachment case presented to the Senate.

Police in Ukraine are investigating whether the U.S. ambassador came under illegal surveillance by an unknown party before the Trump administration recalled her from Kyiv, Ukrainian authorities said.

The GOP-controlled Senate overwhelmingly passed a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada, givingTrump another trade win a day after he inked a partial agreement with China.

Several early-morning, weather-related crashes along major highways caused traffic delays today.

More than a dozen organizations this week are unveiling a coalition pushing for the bolstering of affordable housing in New York in the coming years.

Jeffrey Epstein’s eyes had burst capillaries after his body was found in his Manhattan jail cell, suggesting that the convicted pedophile was likely murdered through manual strangulation and did not hang himself, a forensic pathologist says in a TV interview.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will give his budget address at 1 p.m. in the Hart Theatre in Albany on Tuesday, Jan. 21, according to the governor’s office.

Cuomo paid the artist who helped him put the finishing touches on his throwback political art poster $6,550, according to a newly released campaign filing.

The governor’s re-election campaign reported a cash-on-hand total of $11.9 million after raising nearly $4.5 million in the last six months.

The Hudson Valley is once again expected to be a contested battleground area for Republicans and Democrats in the state Senate this year. And, accordingly, Democrats are raising money to run with an eye toward being competitive.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his senior executive team sought $1 billion in economic incentives for real estate projects around the country, on top of what the company expected to receive for HQ2.

More engineering help, mental health care and fire inspectors were among the action items Cuomo announced before he departed yesterday from Puerto Rico following a series of earthquakes that rattled the island in recent weeks.

Supermodel Gigi Hadid will not be a juror in Harvey Weinstein’s trial.

State troopers escorted protestors out of today’s Public Service Commission after the protesters interrupted the commission’s meeting to objected to a rate hike granted for Con Edison.

The PSC approved a three-year “joint proposal” rate plan that allows for the utility company to increases costs to customers. However, the commission said, the initial rate year request was slashed by more than 75 percent of the initial increase Con Ed sought.

What has traditionally been one of the most competitive state Senate districts in New York – the 60th SD in Western New York – is starting to look like it could be a runaway for Democrats in 2020.

Colonie police are investigating a suspicious incident at the TD Bank on Central Avenue that resulted in a very large police presence there this afternoon.

The Real Estate Board of New York is hosting its 124th annual banquet in Manhattan tonight.

Prince Harry was seen in public today for the first time since his stunning Megxit announcement — making what could be his final official engagement as a royal, according to reports.

Harry posted a social media video of what might be his last-ever royal engagement — backed by a Stone Roses song with the lyrics, “I’d like to leave the country.”

Paleontologist Nizar Ibrahim will host “Spinosaurus: Lost Giant of the Cretaceous” on January 23 at Proctor’s Theatre as part of National Geographic Live.

Carlos Beltran, the only player named in MLB’s investigation of the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, is out as manager of the New York Mets before beginning his first season with the team, it was announced today.

Demi Lovato will sing the National Anthem at the 2020 Super Bowl.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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